Category News

Dolphins, seals and whales managed by the US are highly vulnerable to climate change,

According to a study published in PLOS ONE, 72% of cetacean and pinniped stocks managed under U.S. jurisdiction are highly or very highly vulnerable to climate change. The research was led by Matthew D. Lettrich at NOAA Fisheries, in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.

Climate change could affect the distribution, behavior, and movements of marine mammals via warming ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, decreasing dissolved oxygen, declining sea ice coverage, ocean acidification, and salinity changes. Climate vulnerability assessments (CVAs) provide a framework for evaluating climate impacts over a broad range of species.

Prior to the study, no known CVAs specifically assessed U.S.-managed marine mammals...

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Robots are trained to help revive coral reefs

“It’s a really special part of the world,” says marine biologist Taryn Foster from the Abrolhos Islands, 40 miles from the coast of Western Australia. “There are no palm trees or luscious vegetation. But once you get in the water, you see all these tropical species of coral and fish.” Corals are animals called polyps, found mostly in tropical waters. The soft-bodied polyp forms a hard outer shell by extracting calcium carbonate from the sea. Over time those hard shells build up to form the foundations of the reefs we see today. Coral reefs may only cover 0.2% of the seafloor, but they provide a habitat to more than a quarter of marine species.

However, the creatures are sensitive to heat and acidification so in recent years, as the oceans have warmed and become more acidic, corals ha...

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It’s time to put oceans to the test in the climate fight, scientists say

More than 200 scientists have signed a letter pushing for “responsible” research into ways to trap planet-heating carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans. They want to take urgent action on the climate crisis, while making sure they don’t trigger any new problems by relying on oceans to help in the fight.

Polluters have trashed the world’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. That blanket of pollution is already warming the planet and causing more extreme weather disasters. One way to keep climate change from getting worse is to take some of those historic emissions out of the atmosphere.

Oceans already do that for us, absorbing and holding around 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. What if humans could supercharge that ability?

That’s what...

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The complexities of mapping Pacific and Asian reefs

Des and Kelvin of Gladstone, Katy and Filimone of Fiji and Victor and Christina of Palau all have the same issue – reefs under their care face unprecedented threats. Reefs that have protected shores and supported local fisheries for thousands of years.  Fisheries sustained through customary management rooted in traditional ecological knowledge accumulated over millennia, reflecting local peoples’ deep understanding of their ecosystems. 

They are not alone – the Pacific is home to 27% of the world’s coral reefs and her island nations are particularly reliant on healthy oceans for food, income and coastal protection, says Dr Manuel Gonzalez-Rivero, Australian Institute of Marine Science.  

New understandings and tools are needed to manage reef-bound islands and coastlines faci...

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Concern for Coral Reefs after Maui Fires

In addition to the tragic loss of life and property on fire-ravaged Maui, scientists are also concerned about the environmental damage, both on land and under water. Biologists who have spent decades studying marine life in Hawaii fear the aftermath will endanger coral reefs and other marine life.

“The corals are attached to the bottom of the ocean, they cannot move,” said Dr. Jennifer Smith, director of the Marine Biology Research Division at UC San Diego. “So if you were to rain a bunch of sediment, ash, debris on top of them, they could essentially become smothered. Add to that a lot of this ash and debris could have chemical toxins.”

Manuel Mejia with the Coral Reef Alliance in Hawaii said coral reefs require clean, clear, low-nutrient water to grow.

“When you have ashfall ma...

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How protecting our oceans will help us fight climate change

Healthy marine ecosystems and climate stability have always been closely interlinked. One affects the other, and we are seeing this play out on a planetary scale. Climate change is partly the result of the extended mismanagement of oceans, but the inverse is true as well. If we have concrete measures in place to preserve, restore and sustainably manage ocean ecosystems, nature becomes a powerful ally that breathes life into climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience efforts.

Average ocean surface temperatures broke several records in July, with no signs of slowing down...

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Ocean heat record broken, with grim implications for the planet

The oceans have hit their hottest ever recorded temperature as they soak up warmth from climate change, with dire implications for our planet’s health. The average daily global sea surface temperature beat a 2016 record this week, according to the EU’s climate change service Copernicus. It reached 20.96C. That’s far above the average for this time of year.

Oceans are a vital climate regulator. They soak up heat, produce half Earth’s oxygen and drive weather patterns.

Warmer waters have less ability to absorb carbon dioxide, meaning more of that planet-warming gas will stay in the atmosphere. And it can also accelerate the melting of glaciers that flow into the ocean, leading to more sea level rise.

Hotter oceans and heatwaves disturb marine species like fish and whales as they mo...

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Crucial system of ocean currents is heading for collapse

sunset over the ocean surface

A vital system of ocean currents could collapse within a few decades if the world continues to pump out planet-heating pollution, scientists are warning – an event that would be catastrophic for global weather and “affect every person on the planet.” A new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature, found that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current – of which the Gulf Stream is a part – could collapse around the middle of the century, or even as early as 2025.

Scientists uninvolved with this study told CNN the exact tipping point for the critical system is uncertain, and that measurements of the currents have so far showed little trend or change...

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US refuses climate reparations for developing nations

The US says it will not “under any circumstances” pay reparations to developing countries hit by climate change-fuelled disasters. Climate envoy John Kerry made the remarks at a Congress hearing before flying to China to discuss the issue. Some countries want major economies – which produce the most greenhouse gases – to pay for past emissions. A fund has been established for poorer nations, but it remains unclear how much richer countries will pay. 

Mr Kerry, a former secretary of state, was asked during a hearing before a House of Representatives foreign affairs committee whether the US would pay countries that have been damaged by floods, storms and other climate-driven disasters. 

“No, under no circumstances,” he said in response to a question from Brian Mast, the committee cha...

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Record temps on Florida coast threaten severe coral reef bleaching

Rising temperatures in Florida’s waters due to climate change have sparked an extreme stressor for coral reefs causing bleaching, which has scientists concerned. “In the last year, it’s been really depressing because we’ve seen a lot of changes, and we’ve been monitoring sites from Miami for five years now, and we’re starting to see changes in those sites,” said Michael Studivan, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Health and Monitoring Program.

Just within the last week, as the U.S. South struggles under a heat wave, NOAA has reported Florida water temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (35 C). Normal water temperatures for this time of year should be between 73-88 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NOAA.

The extreme heat has triggered coral ...

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